Visual Novel: Umineko: When They Cry aka: Umineko No Naku Koro Ni
Welcome to Rokkenjima.
"When will you believe in me? That is all that matters. If you want to do some detective work, go ahead. If you believe that there is an answer, go and continue to search. This is torture that will not end until you can believe in witches."
Umineko: When They Cry (Umineko no Naku Koro ni, meaning "When the Seagulls Cry") is a kineticsound novel that takes place in 1986, on the island of Rokkenjima. The rich Ushiromiya family is gathering in order to discuss what will happen to patriarch Kinzo's inheritance, since he has been ill in recent days. The protagonist Battler also has returned to his family after 6 years of rebellion and is eager to meet again with his cousins.While the arguments about the inheritance ensue, a typhoon traps all eighteen people on the island. The family then finds a mysterious letter from a person claiming to be Kinzo's alchemy councilor, the Golden Witch, Beatrice. Beatrice claims that she has been summoned by Kinzo to claim the inheritance, as the family has been deemed unworthy of it. Unless someone solves the riddle of the epitaph on her portraitbefore midnight on October 6th and becomes the family successor, Beatrice will claim everything that the family owns, including the ten tons of gold that Kinzo claims will be given to the successor. This is only the beginning of the strange and shocking events that will occur on the island during these two days. Panic, reasoning, romance, heated confrontations and a lot Mind Screw ensues.Similar to its predecessor, Umineko: When They Cry consists of several arcs with the same scenario repeating for mysterious reasons - although unlike Higurashi where each arc was more or less independent, there is a continuity and transition between the arcs here. The first four arcs are the Question Arcs, where the puzzles are presented to the reader. Instead of outright Answer Arcs, the last four arcs are the Core Arcs, which provide the reader several hints on how to solve the mysteries, but without outright giving away the answer. The first sound novel was published in 2007 and the last in 2010.Part of the When They Cry series, which also includes Higurashi: When They Cry.The series currently consists of a sound novel, a manga, and an anime. The sound novel is 8 Episodes in length, along with two fandiscs, Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Tsubasa (When The Seagulls Cry: Wings) and Umineko no Naku Koro ni: Hane (When The Seagulls Cry: Feathers) containing extra short stories called TIPS that don't fit into the main story. The anime adaptation by Studio DEEN spans 26 episodes, but only covers the first four arcs (and considering how badly the DVD sold and a unanimous bashing from the fans, an adaptation of the last four arcs is unlikely). The American branch of Nippon Ichi announced the localization of the anime on 7/30/2012 with a release date scheduled for 12/2012. Currently classified as 18+ due to intense violence which unlike the Japanese version, will be completely UNCENSORED. On a side note, there is also a movement within said fan base to try to get the visual novel (PS3 version) localized as well.Each Episode is also adapted into a manga, published in magazines owned by Square Enix:
Legend of the Golden Witch was published in the Gangan Joker and drawn by Kei Natsumi.
Turn of the Golden Witch was published in G-Fantasy and drawn by Jirō Suzuki (who also drew Tatarigoroshi-hen).
Banquet of the Golden Witch was published in the Gangan Joker and drawn by Kei Natsumi (again).
Alliance of the Golden Witch was published in Gangan Online and drawn by Sōichirō.
End of the Golden Witch was published in the Gangan Joker and drawn by Akitaka.
Dawn of the Golden Witch was published in G-Fantasy and drawn by Hinase Momoyama (who also drew Minagoroshi-hen).
Requiem of the Golden Witch is currently published in the Monthly Shōnen Gangan and drawn by Eita Mizuno (better known as the artist of Spiral).
Tsubasa was published in the Big Gangan and drawn by Fumi Itō.
In 2012 a doujin manga by Kurumi Suzuhiro, Umineko no Naku Koro ni Shi: Forgery of the Purple Logic, was published the Monthly Comp Ace. It is an independent mystery not placed in the main story's continuity, using and expanding the mechanics of a mini-game in Episode 8.The entire novel has also been ported to the PS3 for a remake, complete with voice acting, remade sprites and CGs. The first four novels were released as Umineko no Naku Koro ni ~ Rondo of Witches and Reason, and the last four novels were released as Umineko no Naku Koro ni Chiru ~ Nocturne of Truth and Illusions. Contrary to the PS2 port of Higurashi though, there are no additional arcs or alternate endings.In addition, a PC fighting game in the vein of Melty Blood has been released, entitled Ougon Musoukyoku (The Golden Fantasia), featuring ten of the characters from the novels. An Xbox 360 port, Ougon Musoukyoku X, has also been released, featuring the ten characters, plus three more added to the roster. And an expansion to the PC version, Ougon Musoukyoku CROSS, has also been released, featuring all the characters from the original and the Xbox port, plus three more characters, and three others set to be added as updates.Summaries of each arc may be found at the When They Cry page. Please put character-related tropes on the Character Sheet.Be wary of the terms used on the Umineko pages — "Episode/EP" (with a capital "E") refers to a Story Arc of the novel, while "episode" refers to an episode of the DEEN anime.A fan translation patch of the games may be found here, acknowledged by Ryukishi07 himself. The patches require an original copy of the game, which may be found on the links page of the translation site.
On the fourth twilight, gouge the tropes and kill:
Adaptation Distillation: Just like its predecessor, the manga adaptation is generally more faithful to the original visual novel than the anime and does a better job in some areas of capturing the mood.
Adaptation Dye-Job: Beatrice's dress (in the anime) and of course the eye colors of just about every character (Battler, Jessica, George, Shannon, Lambdadelta, Virgilia, etc...)
Adaptation Expansion: The manga of Episode 8 replaces the quiz mini-game with a game of hide-and-seek and treats us to new scenes, some of them incredibly heartwarming. More generally, the manga adds additional clues and explanations about the gameboard and the mysteries, as well as a few additional red truths. And most importantly, it confirms unambiguously that Shannon, Kanon and Beatrice are all the same person, Sayo Yasuda.
The first two are in episode 5 alone, where Battler shoots a bullet at the portrait even though the gun he picked up is supposed to be unloaded and sees gold butterflies (while in the VN Beatrice appears in person) which are supposed to indicate we are watching a fantasy scene. So the detective shouldn't see them, the only exception being the end of Episode 2, where Battler had surrendered.
Another one is in episode 10, where Shannon's corpse is found with the stake in her forehead; while in the VN the fact that the stake is beside her corpse is an important clue that she committed suicide in Episode 2 and 4.
Yet another is how in the anime, Shannon and Kanon would appear together in front of other people, such as the cousins, in scenes that weren't fantasy. In the visual novel, the fact that Shannon and Kanon never appear together in front of the other members of the family outside fantasy scenes is meant to be foreshadowing for how they're actually one and the same.
And of course, the entire first half of the Episode 4 Tea Party is axed, along with several important bits of information.
Most notably the witches: We've got Lady Bernkastel, Lady Lambdadelta and, of course, Lady Beatrice.
The Ushiromiya have a lot of this too: In the same family you have names like Krauss, Maria, George, Ange and Kinzō. And then there's Battler, which isn't a normal name at all. In the Ushiromiya family's case the trope is justified since Kinzo's obsession with Western culture prompted him to give his children and grandchildren these names.
All Hallows' Eve: While it takes place on October 4 & 5, Maria is obsessed with Halloween for the first part of the second arc, a fact that is played with very nastily during the first twilight. The last arc also features a Halloween party where everyone's happy instead of fighting about the inheritance.
All There in the Manual: There's a good deal of extra material explaining details and important, often hidden, plot points.
A number of TIPS were not shown in the game itself but released as side materials; these were generally short stories. Often they were humorous and not meant to be taken seriously ("The Stakes' Valentine's Day"), but some were plot relevant ("The Witches' Tanabata isn't sweet") and others somewhat straddled between the two ("Cornelia the new priest"). Tsubasa collects most of these short stories and presents them in a Visual Novel format.
And then we have Our Confession which is extremely important in that it tells you how Sayo Yasuda used bribery, trickery and threats to both commit the murders and get the adults to lead Battler towards the truth (for example Eva's talk with Battler about the culprit in Ep1)
Alpha Strike: This is basically what Erika orders in the final battle. "What are you standing around for?! Open the gun ports! Load concept negation explosive rounds! Don't worry about aiming, just fiiire!"
Altar the Speed: Part of Eva's plan to have George jump ahead in the succession was to rush a marriage to Hideyoshi. In spite of that, they're quite Happily Married.
Alternate Timeline: Several of them. A notable one is shown in EP7, where there are no stories of Beatrice as a witch or a ghost who haunts the mansion, Kinzo never wrote the epitaph, and Battler does not come back to Rokkenjima—not to mention the existence of a new family member, Lion Ushiromiya.
Apple of Discord: Soon after the Mars magic inscription is revealed, the survivors in the room turn their suspicions on each other.
The family conference was pelted with a bushel of apples throughout. Access to Kinzo's wealth was one everyone eyed before they arrived. The epitaph might have been one, but no one took it seriously enough to reach for it until they received Beatrice's "carrot or stick" invitation. But if they band together and cooperate on solving the puzzle, they can find the most compelling apple of discord of all.
19: Among other things, the witch is the 19th person on the island, the age of Sayo Yasuda is 19, and her personas Shannon and Kanon walk 19 steps in their duel specifically in reference to the importance of the number.
07151129, which is Battler's and "Beatrice"'s birthdate (November 29th 1984 being the day Sayo solved the epitaph and discovered who they were).
The number 12 is also very present: 12 people sit at the table in the dining room, Natsuhi was infertile for 12 years after her marriage, Battler and Ange have 12 years of difference, Ange's part of the story happens 12 years later, Battler was 12 years old when he left the family due to Rudolf's remarriage, it took 12 years for Battler to regain his memories and Beatrice's game ends at midnight.
"Come, try and remember," often followed by "What form did you have?"
"On that day, what happened?"
Also, "Because I'm furniture." It turns out it doesn't quite mean what it seems to mean at first.
"Sleep peacefully, my most beloved witch, Beatrice."
"It takes two to make a universe." note Possibly coincidentally, the fighting game only has two-character tag team modes.
"Who... am I?"
Arranged Marriage: Kasumi was forced into this after Kyrie ran off with Rudolf, which is the reason she hates both Kyrie and Ange so much. Eva also tries to set up George with someone to get Shannon away from him. Also happened to Kinzo when he was chosen as the family head. Similarly, Krauss and Natsuhi were also part of an arranged marriage.
Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence: From a fantasy perspective, it seems this is how you become a witch in Umineko and Higurashi, judging from Bernkastel's case. Someone who becomes a witch gains another self which ends up separating from the human self. Which are illusions or Imaginary Friends and which are actual witches (if there are any such things) is left for the readers to decide.
Audience Monologue: Kumasawa does a few of these in the first arc to explain various issues among the residents of the Ushiromiya mansion.
Awesome Moment of Crowning: Hugely subverted in the third arc. The epitaph is solved, the title of Golden Witch is passed on in a grandiose ceremony, and the murders can stop now, right? Like the letter said, right? Wait, why's Eva-Beatrice pointing her staff at Rosa like that...?And then there was cake.
The Baby Trap: Kyrie claims Asumu pulled one to steal Rudolf out from under her. Later on it turns out that Asumu didn't switch the babies; Rudolf did.
Special mention must go to Kyrie, who's usually the first to start firing off shotgun shells or beating demons and whatnot with chairs while everybody else is still panicking.
EP4, where practically everyone who hasn't been killed in the first twilight gets an awesome moment, which are all thoroughly underscored with the revelation that everything was going according to the witches' plans.
Baleful Polymorph: In EP3, Eva-Beatrice turns Rosa into one of the golden butterflies, which promptly gets blown into a spiderweb.
Bastard Bastard: Discussed by several characters in the early arcs, who theorize that an illegitimate child of Kinzō and Beatrice has come to the island to take revenge and/or claim back the gold. They were right about the first part.
Bat Deduction: Solving the epitaph requires a reasoning that borders on this trope. The key to the Golden Land refers to a six-character word ; "My beloved hometown" is Taiwan ; "The sweetfish river" is a railway ; "The shore that the two will tell you of" refers to a station named Kirigan (which contains twice the "mouth" radical and the character for "shore") ; in Chinese, Kirigan is Qilian (this is the "key") ; then you must understand that in the tenth twilight, "the capital of gold", written 黄金の卿, can be written 黄金の京 ; the 京 character can be read as "kei", which means "ten quadrillion" ; so the first twilight begins at one tenth of that, "one quadrillion" ; then you must remember that the word "quadrillion" is written on the chapel's pediment, and that's where you must remove the six letters of "Qilian" ("sacrifice the six chosen by the key") ; after that you just have to follow the rest.Easy, isn't it?
EP3 features Eva-Beatrice trying to destroy Beatrice's, but failing miserably, with Beatrice's heart refusing to stop beating, because it would leave Kanon and Jessica at Eva-Beatrice's mercy.
The end of EP4 features what is probably one of the most touching moments ever created by this trope.
Be Careful What You Wish For: "The Witches' Tanabata" plays with this: Beatrice pulls the thread on Maria's simple wish, gradually getting her to imagine her ideal world in greater and greater detail. Bernkastel, meanwhile, plays this terribly, horribly straight.
Beat Them at Their Own Game: What Battler is trying to do. All the weapons he has to defend the Muggle possibility are supplied to him by the beings he is trying to deny. This is because Beatrice actually wants him to figure out the truth.
Begging The Question: Accepting the red text as only speaking the truth requires you believe both that Beatrice is being honest and that the red text speaks only the truth when statements like "The red text speaks only the truth!" come up. Well, at least that's the case until we see Battler attempt to use the red to say something that turns out to be untrue. That said, it does happen to be true: Anything said in red is at worst misleading.
Betty and Veronica: A very complex example. Sayo Yasuda is the Archie, the gentlemanly Second Love George is the Betty, the rebellious and perverted, longtime missing First Love Battler is the Veronica, and the free-spirited longtime friend Jessica is the Third-Option Love Interest. The problem is that none of Sayo's love interests know about his/her issues, let alone the fact that they all love the same person. Sayo wanted to accept George's marriage proposal, but his/her unresolved feelings for Battler and Jessica as well as the fear of how any of them would react to the truth about his/her origins and his/her body caused the entire tragedy.
Ange's entrance. She saves Battler just as he's about to sign that witches do exist.
Also, in EP6, Beatrice crashing the wedding.
EP5 has all of Beatrice's Furniture come in to counter Erika's argument that Natsuhi is the culprit. While doing so, they beat the everloving shit out of her. In order: Gaap summons a hole at Erika's feet and has it open on the ceiling. Virgilia summons her "Smothered Mate" lance to skewer her. And the Stakes of Purgatory attack her all at once, so by the end she has a giant lance and 7 small stakes going through her.
EP6 also has Kanon breaking out of the closed room Erika created to save Battler from his closed room by switching places with him.
Will's entrance in Episode 7 shows him coming to the rescue of an innocent maid who's being interrogated by his own agency. He does it again for Lion at the end of Episode 7.
EP8 has multiple, surprisingly many pulled off by the antagonists! (and some morally dubious members of the case) Erika saves little Ange from being eaten by goats and Lambda sets off a multi-colored words battle the likes of which have never been seen in game against Featherine. The main cast gets their share too fighting off hoards of goats.
Big Fancy House: The Ushiromiya mansion, complete with servants and a secondary guest house, in case the main mansion wasn't big enough.
Bittersweet Ending: The author intentionally gave you two ways to see this: either bittersweet or as a Downer Ending. Which one really depends on whether you take the mystery or fantasy explanations for what happened. Even with the fantasy stuff, though, it's pretty difficult to say it ends any better than bittersweetly. By the end, almost everyone is still dead. Those who survived (Eva and Ange) still lived pretty miserable lives, although the ending gives Ange a chance to move on. You find out that Battler also survived, albeit amnesiac, traumatized, and crippled. It turns out that the series is about him coming to terms with his past, so in that way, the story ends happily, but in that way only.
"Blind Idiot" Translation: While the English scanlation of the manga has occasional mistakes, the first chapter of Episode 8 manages the feat of getting a good 80% of the dialogues wrong or in the wrong place. In the penultimate page alone, a crucial piece of information (that Shannon and Kanon can only appear simultaneously in front of people who "recognize" them) and a red truth are replaced by completely irrelevant lines. This may be a case of improvised translation. But even by improvising, missing a red truth that covers half the page is quite unexplainable.
There are multiple instances of what appear to be ritualistic "magic circles" being drawn in blood. And in episode 03 of the visual novel the numbers 07151129 are written in what looks like blood over the door George is found dead in. This serves as a hint for later episodes in the "chiru arcs".
There's multiple cases of murders that involve bashing people's faces to so that they're so bloody, that it's impossible to recognize who it is.
The disembowling in Higurashi makes an encore in Umineko, on the first twilight (murder) of the second arc leaving blood and guts all around the crime scene. Played for horror again since they were sitting at a party table when they were found
In episode 06 of the visual novel it's revealed that Erika decapitated the heads of people who were playing dead, and stuffed them in garbage bags so she could trap Battler (who was GM at the time) in a logic error by making it so nobody could replace the chain lock if he left the room he had "died" in.
In the sound novel, the OP for EP 1 plays in the credits of the Trick Ending in EP 8.
In Episode 8 itself, early in the "game", Beatrice does a sleight of hand in front of little Ange to make a candy appear. Near the end, she does the same sleight of hand, and you have to choose whether this is a trick (leading to the "Trick Ending") or genuine magic (leading to the "Magic Ending"). Of course by this point, the player knows neither answer is right or wrong.
Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the first half of the series Bernkastel occasionally seems to do this, though whether she's addressing the reader or Battler is unclear.
Break the Cutie: What Beatrice does to Shannon in EP2. However, with how the game later implies heavily that Beatrice and Shannon are actually one and the same, it's likely a metaphor for Sayo Yasuda's self-deprecation.
Break the Haughty: Bernkastel/Erika's whole scheme in End of the Golden Witch leads to this against Beatrice.
The Butler Did It: Shannon and Kanon are usually suspects for many murders. Doubly Subverted throughout the series as many incidents occur which completely dispel the audience's belief that either are involved, but Shannon and Kanon are later revealed to be the same person and heavily involved in the murders.
The Can Kicked Him: In the first arc, Hideyoshi's corpse is found in the shower with the water still running.
Cassandra Truth: Maria keeps trying to warn everyone about Beatrice, but no one believes her.
Casting Gag: Beatrice is played by Sayaka Ohara, who is said to be the successor to Kikuko Inoue's role as go-to-Yamato Nadeshiko actress—incidentally, Inoue plays Beatrice's mentor, Virgilia. (The PS3 port adds Inoue's predecessor, Sumi Shimamoto, but not in any way that could take the gag further, sadly, since she plays Kasumi Sumadera and not a witch.)
Cast of Snowflakes: Ryūkishi's drawing skills may be limited, but he admittedly gave all the characters unique designs and faces (outside of the Seven Sisters and Generation Xerox characters).
Battler's: Dame da, zenzen dame da ze! "It's useless, it's all useless!" Ange also uses it on occasion (Dame ne, zenzen dame da wa).
Both Kyrie's and Battler's: Chesuban wo hikkurikaesu. "Turn the chessboard around."
Erika Furudo: X ga sonzaisuru dake de, Furudo Erika ha, kono teido no suiri ga kanō desu. Ikaga deshō ka, minasamagata? "Simply by X, this level of reasoning is possible for Furudo Erika. What do you think, everyone?". And also, "<Good!>"
Eva-Beatrice's: Heso kande shinjaeba~? "Why don't you just give up and die?!" (literally "why don't you bite your navel and die?!")
Gaap's: Ikemen ni kagiru! "But only if he's hot!"
Maria's: Uu~ Beatoriche ha iru. "Uu- Beatrice exists."
Character Shilling: Played for dark humor in the fifth and sixth chapters. The narration itself is clearly bent by Bernkastel and Lambdadelta so that the story will constantly gush about Erika Furudo, as do the characters to a slightly lesser extent. However, she is clearly a complete bitch.
Chekhov's Gun: Shannon mentioning an embarrassing line Battler said to her in EP3 is one. Beatrice mentioning the Knox's Decalogue in Episode 2 is another.
Ange and Gaap are mentioned in the first novel (Ange is specifically stated to be bedridden with flu and can't join the...festivities; Maria mentions Gaap's powers as one way for Beatrice to smuggle Kinzo out of his room without breaking the closed circle).
The anime's Image Songs also have Maria mention Sakutaro once near the end of her song; when the single was released, the anime was still midway into its third arc, when Sakutaro only appears in the fourth, sixth and eight.
Willard H. Wright was first mentioned off-handedly a TIPS from Episode 5, as the head of the SSVD, "Wizard-Hunting Wright".
Chess Motifs: Used extensively in the series, mainly with the game itself being likened to a chess game.
For Kinzo, it's a roulette with death, since it relies on surviving the random selection of sacrifices. For everyone else it relies on first accepting the game, and then winning it, but Kinzo doesn't have much faith in or concern for that happening.
A literal example is in EP3, where Kinzo loses a chess match with Beatrice before the first twilight. It's implied that it was his final opportunity to evade selection for sacrifice.
The Chessmaster: The repeated invocation of a chess board by, oh, everyone regarding this plot. The only ones who seem capable of applying for the trope, though, are the witches. Pretty much all of them.
As of EP5, Battler becomes the Endless Sorcerer, with approval by Lambdadelta. This means that he is now the game master, like Beatrice in the previous episodes, and with his experience he is quite capable of weaving complex stories and manipulate his opponents.
Compressed Adaptation: The anime is a victim of this, but special mention goes to the fourth arc, which entirely cuts out the action sequence when Kanon and Shannon's group escapes from the underground prison as well as the whole scene where Battler wanders around the empty mansion, examining everyone's corpses (meaning that the anime doesn't even show you that Maria was killed or that Kanon's corpse can't be found). This was the trade-off for what many saw as too much time given to the 1998 and metaworld sequences.
The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: In the fighting game. The AI gets to forgo the directional sequence before a special move, allowing scenarios like AI!Battler invoking the Metaworld and blowing you to hell with three Meta supers in a row, which would be impossible for a human to fit in if you factor in the movements.
Contrived Coincidence: As stated on the character sheet, Erika is a detective prodigy who just happens to shipwreck on an island with a soon-to-be murder mystery. Subverted in that it is contrived not by the author, but by Bernkastel, who is in charge of the narrative arc at the time.
Crossover: The Umineko No Naku Koro Ni X manga is a rather comical and energetic crossover with Higurashi, plopping the Ushiromiya manor within spitting distance of Hinamizawa. So, if you ever want to see Rena mowing their lawn, Rudolf hanging out with the Stakes in Angel Mort, or Battler perplexed by the whole deal, this is it.
Cruel and Unusual Death: The first twilight of Episode 2. The bodies of Krauss, Natsuhi, Eva, Hideyoshi, Rudolph, and Kyrie are found locked inside the chapel with bloody candies spewing out of their bellies. Their internal organs are found lying on the ground next to the bodies, apparently having been forced out by the surge of candy.
In Episode 5, Bernkastel introduces Canon Sue and new furniture to kill Beatrice, further her own plans, and royally screw with the status quo. Eventually, Battler and Beato's furniture decide that they are having none of this. Epic smackdown ensues.
An even bigger one in Episode 8: Lambdadelta challenges Featherine to a battle. Featherine doesn't even bother explaining HOW she wins, she just decrees it so, then promises to go back and write an impressive fight-scene later.
Cycle of Hatred: Too many to mention, to the point where there's even a character who exists as an incarnation of it.
Darkest Hour: Episode 5. Battler is impaled on a sword, Piece!Beatrice is dead, Bernkastel and Erika have taken over the gameboard and intend to thoroughly erase everything related to Beatrice, and Natsuhi is falsely framed as a despicable murderer and a whore who slept with the man she calls Father, without anyone managing to prove her innocence. Made all the more frightening by the fact that by that point you expect a twist to happen in the Tea Party. It doesn't. Then, to nail a bit more, the hidden Tea Party opens with the real Beatrice's death. And then, finally, Battler comes back and takes a level in badass.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Both In-Universe and invoked. In fact, it's largely the point of the final episode, which points out that the Ushiromiya family could not have been nasty to each other all the time and that the previous episodes more or less both showed the family at their worst and that said worst is more or less only the theories of a bunch of gossipers.
Dark Reprise: goldenslaughterer is already a pretty dark BGM to begin with, since it plays during the more cruel deaths, but it gets a darker and more intense remix as the_executioner in EP7, which plays during the fight between Will and Bernkastel.
Death by Materialism: Kinzo doesn't seem to care about any of his children at least partly because he doesn't like them fighting over his inheritance.
Death Is Cheap: Because of the "Groundhog Day" Loop, the fact that furniture apparently can be recreated without much difficulty, even if their very existence has been denied, and the powers of any with with the Endless title to kill and resurrect someone infinitely. However, later on this is subverted: everyone revives as pieces at the beginning of each new game, but in the real world, everyone is really Deader than Dead and nothing can change it.
Death's Hourglass: The clock that appears in the corner of the screen, of the spur-to-action variety.
If you take an anti-fantasy stance, it can also be seen as one of the fantasy genre, since many of the fantastic elements are implied to be a product of a human character's imagination which is in turn fueled by their loneliness.
Deconstructor Fleet: If there is a trope, you can bet that Umineko will either subvert it or play it straight with the most disturbing consequences possible. It also goes out of its way to subvert many tropes that were played straight in Higurashi.
Depending on the Author: In-universe example. There are several noticable differences between the writings of Sayo Yasuda (Ep 1-2) and Tooya/Battler (Ep 3-6). For example, Sayo was filled with self-loathing and therefore wrote Beatrice as a cruel villain. On the other hand Battler, who loved Beatrice/Sayo, wrote her in a more gentle light. Also Sayo never assumed that Battler remembered his relationship with Shannon as kids and therefore Battler never showed any interest in Shannon in Ep 1-2 (to the point where he is more worried about Kanon's honor than Shannon's death). But, Battler did love Shannon and pointed out early in Ep 3 that she was his first love. In Rokkenjima Prime, Battler was even jealous of George and Shannon being together and inwardly lamented not coming back for Shannon earlier.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: In Ougon Musou Kyoku, you can't chose teams composed of the same character (Battler/Battler or EVA/EVA, for example). However, if you hack the game to do it, you can find out that the developers added quotes for calling the characters (every time you change the active character by doing a Normal Touch, the active character will call the other). For example, in an Erika/Erika team, Erika will say "Witch of Truth!", her title, during a Normal Touch. Also, the characters sometimes have conversations with their partners in the Arcade mode. Guess what? Even same character teams have this. For example, if you play Arcade mode using a Lucifer/Lucifer team, during their conversation Lucifer will scold the other one for not being so effective in battle.
Did You Actually Believe?: End of the 3rd arc when Battler is about to lose, again. Beato pulls this off and brags about how her "tsundere" technique worked, and that Battler's a sucker for it. On the other hand, later it's found out that she really is that nice, and the mean part was just an act.
Discussed Trope: When Jessica denies interest in Kanon, Shannon implies she's acting as a term she recently learned: "tsundora".
Distant Finale: Episode 8's Hidden Tea Party. Decades later, Ange becomes a famous author under the alias "Yukari Kotobuki". Having become famous, she attracts the attention of Tohya Hachijo, who turns out to be two people, one of which was Battler, who lost his memories and regained them. Ange and Tohya meet, but Tohya couldn't associate himself with his identity as "Battler". In the end, Ange invites Ikuko and Tohya to the reopening of the Fukuin House to let Tohya come to terms with his past.
A plot point. If Battler can Do In The Wizard, he wins his and Beatrice's game. Beatrice would, presumably, disappear. While it's never outright stated, the second half of the series does drop a lot of hints that witches and other magical beings may not actually be real in the first place.
The entire novel (all eight episodes) clocks at around 6 MB as a text file. Compare War and Peace, which is around 3 MB. Even more impressive knowing that Ryūkishi07 wrote in less than 4 years. And that's not even counting Land of the Golden Witch, the original Episode 3 that was scrapped.
As for the manga, the first English volume—the first half of the manga adaptation of EP 1—is 512 pages long. The second half is supposed to be 624 pages long. That's because the English edition regroups 2 volumes in 1.
The entire wedding scene in EP6, particularly when Erika tries to forcibly put a too small wedding ring on Battler's finger after lubing the ring and his finger up with saliva and insists that she will shove it into "the deepest part."
And in case you didn't get the subtext, the manga has Erikasweating and panting heavily during the whole scene.
Or Asmodeus and Satan's...er, choice words when confronting Kanon. "Are you scared? How cute!" "Where do you want it? Where do you want me to pierce you?" "...piercing it feels so good," "Come on, let me have another taste. Pleasure me all you can with that warm chest of yours!"
Double Standard: Abuse, Female on Male: Averted when Erika is about to seal Battler's will. Threatening to magically force someone into eternal servitude, in which… things… shall be done to the servant for all of eternity, is treated every bit as dramatically as it should be, no matter the genders. There's also the incident with Beato's initial victory and what then happened to Battler.
Drink Order: Tea. Tea tea tea tea tea tea tea. Everyone drinks tea. Especially Beato, Lambda, and Bern (they are called "tea parties," after all). Bern usually specifies that she wants umeboshi (sour, pickled plum) tea.
Driving Question: The question that drives the first half of the series is who killed everyone on the island. The question that drives the second half of the series is who Beatrice is.
Duel to the Death: In EP1, Between Natsuhi and Beatrice. In EP3, Between Rudolph and Belphegor. In EP6, One between Kanon and Shannon and another one between Beatrice/Battler and Erika
Dying Declaration Of Hate: Eva declares her hatred of her niece Ange a few minutes before she dies. Ange hardly seems surprised and retorts that it's mutual.
Earn Your Fun: Several characters state multiple times that the answers won't be given to those who don't try to search for them. Thus most of the tricks for the murders are left for the readers to solve themselves, whith Will just giving vague and cryptic answers for the first 4 games in Episode 7. But not for the 5th game.
Earn Your Happy Ending: Or Earn Your Bittersweet Ending, as it were. To say that Ange had to work for that little sliver of happiness would be an understatement. Unfortunately, the rest of her family isn't so lucky.
Eureka Moment/The Summation: Repeatedly subverted. Whenever such a moment occurs, Battler's or Erika's deductions are often partially or completely off. It can be assumed that this is to leave it up to the viewer to solve the mystery instead of spoiling anything.
Summation Gathering: The detective in Episode 5 invokes the trope intentionally, and indeed, all the common elements of the scenario are present. It's subverted in that the obvious suspect is innocent, and being falsely accused. The detective doesn't really care about this one detail, however.
Extensively discussed in Episode 5. While talking with Virgilia about mystery novels, Battler realizes that someone putting this trope into motion has the same effect as telling the reader that at that point in time, there should be enough clues to solve the mystery. Shortly afterwards, Battler re-reads the story thus far and learns truth of the mystery, indirectly telling the audience that it is possible to deduce the truth.
Everybody's Dead, Dave: Happens twice to Ange in Episode 8, the first time when she learns the truth that everyone except Eva died on Rokkenjima and nobody is coming back. The second time is a subversion as it's the villains who announce that to Ange and Battler, after the destruction of the Golden Land.
Hardly ever works; the one time it does during the first arc is when it starts ringing while everyone's holed up in Kinzo's room. Natsuhi picks it up and hears...a little girl singing.
In EP5, Every single time the phone rings, it's for Natsuhi, and a man claiming to be her son from 19 years ago gives her strange orders and taunts her mercilessly.
Evolving Credits: The witch portrait changes each arc (default-Beatrice, then Zettai Ryouiki-Beatrice, then Eva-Beatrice); the fourth arc simply shows all three portraits in reverse order. Starting in the third arc they also added 15 new characters to the opening and changed the positioning of four others to reflect their relationship. By the fifth arc, Erika now has a portrait in the opening, and by the seventh, all of the previous portraits plus Battler's and Wright and Lion's are seen.
The goat-headed butlers may have faces, but they're all alike, and may just be wearing goat masks.
Played in multiple episodes where it is shown that the goat heads are actually wearing "masks." EP2 shows Bern taking off a goat head; EP4 had Goat-kun which, as mentioned above, reflects on his life; and EP6 has the entire Ushiromiya family taking off goat heads during Beato and Battler's wedding.
Failed a Spot Check: One or two of the riddles, most notably the Kanon-in-the-closet one from EP6 seriously relies on this (It's not that there's no body in the closet — it's that the body is now inhabited by Shannon or Beatrice rather than Kanon).
The Fair Folk: While they're called "witches" and have all the traditional trappings, their existence, playing with reality and fiction and following seemingly nonsensical rules, has many similarities.
Fair Play Whodunnit: This work is somewhat bipolar towards this trope. The very first trailer started with the words "No Knox. No Dine. No Fair". Then it begins with a fairly normal mystery plot which flies out of the window as witches and other magical beings keep appearing. But upon rereading earlier episodes it becomes obvious that all revelations were hinted at.
In Episode 5 a new character is introduced whose name is Ronald A. Knox backwards, who gives the possibility that the Knox rules are true in the game, scolds the reader for getting distracted from the mystery by the fantasy elements and outright states that the author wants the reader to solve it on their own. Beatrice herself actually states that the novels follow the Knox decalogue as early as EP2 when she and Battler are arguing over hidden doors; most people don't notice this the first time around.
Episode 7 follows Episode 5's trend and introduces an incarnation of Willard H. Wright (the real name of S.S. Van Dine), who shows up to 'bury' Beatrice and reveal her heart. The ultimate answer is that, while the story is far from a traditional Fair-Play Whodunnit, it still is solvable with use of foreshadowing and reasoning.
The anime drops this entirely, in favor of best visual presentation probably. The first arc doesn't even provide enough evidence to solve it as a mystery, and later arcs are reboots in which circumstances change, previous pasts are revealed in ways that couldn't be known to most of the characters, and even characters differ without demonstrating development.
This certainly flings feces at Van Dine's 2nd: 2. No willful tricks or deceptions may be placed on the reader other than those played legitimately by the criminal on the detective himself. Even the pre-release trailer promised "No Fair", then a revised Knox's Decalogue is presented as the rules of the game, but not until deep into the game.
Faking the Dead: Several murders are only possible by the use of this trick. It's then horribly subverted in Episode 6 where everyone was faking their deaths to play a prank on Erika… after which she proceeds to decapitate all of them to make sure there are dead, thus preventing anyone to save Battler and trapping him into a logic error.
The game has the Stakes, the anime has...pretty much every other female.
The Alliance Manga has a not-so-surprising amount of it considering half of it is centered on Ange and the Seven Sisters, plus the Chiester Sisters. With Ange, the authors seem to go out of their way to always be just an inch away from the Panty Shot.
Fantastic Fragility: Beatrice explains that, while she could very easily use her magic in ways that leave her utterly invulnerable, it is much more effective to leave the Ushiromiya family a chance (however slim) of successfully defeating her. To illustrate the reasons for this, a comparison is drawn between magic and gambling — the greater the "risk", the greater the "reward", so a sure chance of victory leaves nothing to gain. However, it's entirely possible that this isn't meant literally; Bernkastel claims that boredom is the only way to kill a witch, and it's very possible that the "no risk, no reward" paradigm is entirely psychological, as if they leave themselves no chance of losing a game, it is no challenge, and therefore "boring". But given that Beatrice isn't even trying to win in the first place, it's also entirely possible that none of this is relevant, or even true, especially after more mundane explanations for anything magical are revealed in the second half of the series.
Fascist Gold: The true origin of the 10 tons of gold, as revealed in Episode 7.
Fashionable Asymmetry: The Ushiromiya crest is a one-winged eagle, so it's only to be expected. Ange has a vertical assymmetry, with a fully covering top that has very long sleeves, yet an extremely short skirt.
Thanks to Endless magic, people can be killed over and over again in new and interesting ways. This pales in comparison to the closed room Battler gets trapped in in EP6.
In that same episode, it's shown even Lambdadelta is scared by the hell of being trapped in a logic error. "Hey....are you guys...really.....real?" Asking if the people she's talking to are there, and not just delusions of a mind that went insane from being trapped in a logic error.
Faustian Rebellion: Battler is trying to prove that witches and magic don't exist, while at the same time arguing with them and watching the period of time played out over and over. It's a miracle he doesn't just disappear in a Puff of Logic. Battler himself notes the irony.
Fighting a Shadow: Even if Beatrice (and Battler, for that matter) die on the chessboard, since their souls actually exist in the meta-world, they're fine to play another round.
Flanderization: In-universe, the Witch Hunt has sensationalized the Rokkenjima Massacre with the worst characterizations of the Ushiromiya family. Even the forgeries made by legitimate Game Masters can do this; though a piece can't be forced to act against their nature, they can be controlled to exaggerate that nature, or juxtapose it in context.
Flat Earth Atheist/Nay-Theist: Battler can be interpreted as being either of these at the beginning of the story, what with all the witches running around. However, as the story progresses, Battler's arguments and reasoning change as well, as he realizes that he doesn't need to disprove witches, just that witches commited the murders and mysteries. By EP6, he finds out the solution of the games and switches sides, becoming the Endless Sorcerer, and allies with Beatrice. Let's just say it's complicated and leave it at that.
Flowery Classical Japanese: The epitaph in Japanese is almost entirely written in bungo, a form of written Japanese that stopped being used in the middle of the Meiji era, as it had become completely disconnected with how people actually spoke. It serves to give the epitaph a majestic and mystical flavor. Kinzō himself happens to speak in Antiquated Linguistics.
Foregone Conclusion: No matter what the characters may try or what magical Power Ups they get in a given arc, they will end up killed anyway. The point of the series is to understand why everyone is killed.
Foreshadowing: This being a murder mystery, there's bound to be loads of them. And not just relating to the murder mystery.
One plot related one, having nothing to do with the mystery aspect, occurs in EP 4 when Battler says that he'll put Beato's name on the Death Sheet in the place of his true love (it was part of a gamble where he either had to kill himself, his love, or his family). In EP 6, they marry.
Beatrice actually states the story is supposed to follow the Knox rules in EP2, although it comes off as pretty offhand.
While many of the hints don't mean very much on their own during the first read through, there's a lot of foreshadowing for the fact that Beatrice, Shannon and Kanon are all the same person. In fact as soon as you know this, every conversation between them changes radically.
In fact there are so many hints dropped in the first 2 Episodes that as soon as you know the truth you realize that you actually can solve the series with the first Episode alone.
A rather funny one happens early on in Episode 1, by Krauss: "My father is already dead. What is inside this study is only a shadow of his past self." Quite literally, yeah.
This link shows you just how much of a goldmine Episode 1 is in that department.
Twilight of the Golden Witch: After Ange wakes up in the dining room with the corpses of Kyrie, Rudolf, Rosa, Genji, Eva, and Hideyoshi, she identifies everyone and makes observations as she does so. She describes her own parents as looking pitiful with their bright red bloody makeup. As it turns out, they were faking their death, so it might have actually been literal makeup. Later on towards the end of the mystery story where there are three people left, George and Maria exchange purple declarations claiming that George can't kill any adults and Maria is incapable of murder, alienating Battler.
For Want of a Nail: EP7 presents an alternate 1986: Natsuhi accepts the baby that Kinzo asked her to adopt. Because of this, the epitaph does not exist, and there are no mentions of Beatrice as a witch or a ghost in the mansion.
Freudian Excuse: Rosa often uses this to rationalize her Mother of the Year harsh treatment towards Maria. Her's own parents and siblings showed little mercy towards her when she was growing up, so she believes holding back on Maria would be "spoiling" her.
The Gad Fly: Ronove and his snarky attitude towards Beato. Shannon can act this way as well, though not nearly as pronounced.
Episode 3, where Beatrice's strategy hinges upon Eva-Beatrice, Battler, and Eva all taking a very specific set of actions.
Bernkastel was probably The Man Behind the Man on this very one, adding yet another layer to the entire thing: Beatrice had to take a very specific action at the end for Bern's own plans to work out.
If Episode 8 is to be trusted, Battler pulls one off in Episode 6. His humiliating defeat at the hands of Erika, threatening to forever trap his mind in a logic error, was so that Beatrice could be revived and come to his rescue.
Game Between Heirs: The successor to the Ushiromiya family's headship and fortune (which includes ten tons of solid gold) seemed to be locked and set in stone and then a letter from the resident witch arrived, announcing that the spoils have been made fair game to anyone who can solve the Witch's Epitaph, a long riddle which incidentally, details a ritual requiring human sacrifice. Mind games (and lots andlots of murder) ensue.
Gender Neutral Writing: Episode 7, to the point it's lampshaded. Now imagine you are a French or German translator for this Episode. You can start to cry in despair.
Genre-Busting: Fantasy? Mystery? One with elements of the other? Nope! Try "romance with fantastical mystery Jungian-psychological elements".
Genre Shift: Starts as a classical murder mystery but veers more and more towards fantasy as the story progresses… Or so Beatrice would like to make you think.
Geodesic Cast: With the exception of Maria's branch, most of the cousins' families work kind of like this: one mother, one father, and one child. It gets more confusing later, with the introduction of Ange and Sayo Yasuda.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In EP3 of the sound novel, while trying to explain playing with letters and anagrams, Rudolf says "… It's like 'Sucker Merry Barrels'. What do you get when you take out the e's and r's?"
All four siblings to some extent, but particularly strongly with Eva.
EP7 shows how the Japanese and Italian forces on the island wiped each other out over the massive load of gold. Of course, it's questionable whether this actually happened since the narrator was Kinzo who is later implied to be the one who suggested to steal the gold and killed everyone in the base in the first place.
In the EP7 Tea Party, the Ushiromiya siblings solve the epitaph before Sayo Yasuda can even start the murders. Once they find the gold, all of them start to argue about how to split it and exchange it for money. They all begin to be irrational, the argument becomes really heated and everything goes down hill from there.
Go Mad from the Isolation: What happens to people who get trapped in a logic error. Specifically, Lambdadelta and especially Bernkastel. Doesn't make up for the horrible things she's done, but you still sympathize with her, considering Bernkastel's logic error wasn't even her own fault — she was only a piece in that game. Her master, the player, created the logic error, then abandoned the game, leaving a piece that knows nothing with the task of solving the error to escape. The fact that, after hundreds of years, she was able to do so is why she became the Witch of Miracles.
The fighting game's opening is full of it, it is a translation of the witch's epitaph in French. Also, every sentence under the health bar is also displayed in bad French: for example, you can see under the message counter hit "sens inverse coup" whereas a more fitting translation would be "contre"
Mariage Sorcière, the witch group Maria and Beatrice formed.
Gratuitous Greek: Lambdadelta (ΛΔ) as well as the firing sequence of the Chiesters.
Greek Chorus: If the meta-world didn't turn into its own subplot, it would be a very developed one of these. However, a more straightforward example occurs in the sixth arc, with Featherine and Ange taking up this role. In the seventh arc Clair takes this role, with some help from Zepar and Furfur.
Kumasawa makes conveniently timed appearances to monologue into empty rooms about the romances.
Gretzky Has the Ball: EP6 With all the chess talk up to this point about pieces, moves, and checks, Lambdadelta all of a sudden starts using poker terminology when asking to see Battler's "cards" to fix the logic error. Battler joins in too talk about flushes and straights. It goes back to chess when Erika declares checkmate, though.
"Groundhog Day" Loop: Only magical/meta-characters (and "furniture") are aware of this, though, and each arc is actually a different world. By EP8, this turns out to be subverted, since the whole series is actually Recursive Canon. The first six arcs are just different interpretations of the events that took place on Rokkenjima (EP1 and 2 are message bottles that were written by Sayo Yasuda, which washed up on the shores of Japan, while EP3-6 are novels written by Toya Hachijou, formerly Battler Ushiromiya).
Guide Dang It: One answer at the end of Episode 7 is actually in the TIPS of Episode 6, and most people probably missed it. If you Execute Erika, you will see her fate in the real world (that she fell from the boat and went missing, with her parents thinking that she washed off on Rokkenjima). The "Rokkenjima accident" is called the "Rokkenjima Explosion Accident", while it was left vague in Episode 4.
Guilt-Based Gaming: The end of Episode 2 is basically Beatrice giving one big, painful slap in the face to Battler for giving up so easily. Nope, dear readers, not thinking and just accepting everything is the work of the Witch is not an option.
Gut Punch: During 10 long chapters, we see nothing but cousins joking, siblings talking about the economic context of Japan, two lovebirds making a marriage promise and a little girl reading a slightly unsettling letter. Time jump to the morning after… THEY HAVENO FACE!!!
Happily Married: Oddly enough, the most stable couple (the wife's problems come from elsewhere) is Eva and Hideyoshi. And when Hideyoshi kicks it, Eva completely SNAPS and goes madder than she already is. In EP6, Battler and Beatrice as well.
Heir Club for Men: Eva was almost pushed out of the line of succession because when she married Hideyoshi, she should have lost her name. However, she convinced Kinzo to adopt Hideyoshi as an Ushiromiya, allowing herself to retain her position (Rosa retains hers because no one even knows who she married). This is also a reason, along with George's older age, that Eva thinks he should be ahead on the succession.
Hilariously subverted. Ronove says that Battler was so shocked by Beatrice's plan to trick him into believing in her that he refused to talk or eat, but then he shows up fighting with one of the Seven Sisters of Purgatory for a basket of bread rolls. Ronove was just teasing her.
Later played straight and brought Up to Eleven when Battler finds out that the woman he thought was his birth mother, really wasn't his mother at all. He subsequently stops existing for half an arc.
For example, Jessica throwing herself in front of Kanon to block one of the stakes in EP2, Ange revealing her name to snap some sense into Battler in EP4, and Kanon trading places with Battler in the closed room in EP6.
Lambdadelta towards the end of Episode 8.
Hide Your Lesbians: An odd example. Even after Bernkastel and Lambdadelta have said repeatedly and unambiguously that they love each other, the narration and the characters continue to call them "friends". It's a bit jarring.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Deliberately invoked as a meta example. The characters' theories pretty much state the exact solution to the mystery outright all the way back in Episode one — it was the servants, Kinzo had a mistress and their illegitimate child is responsible, etc. The only thing they didn't nail was the motivation, which they had no way of knowing.
Hijacked by Ganon: Bernkastel and Lambdadelta successfully usurped the villain's role and are aiming for the role of the hero as well too by means of invoking Decoy Protagonist.
How We Got Here: The very first scene in EP5 is the last scene on that world's gameboard. This was the first scene for meta-Battler, as well, before the Bern and Lambda rewound the story for him. EP6 does this as well, starting with Battler's horrific defeat and a closed room prison that is revisited multiple times before it finally makes sense.
Human Chess: Deliberately invoked by pretty much the whole plot.
If I Wanted You Dead...: How Rosa argues her innocence in EP2: She's been carrying around a loaded rifle since the first Twilight. If she wanted anyone dead, they would be dead.It doesn't change that Rosa is at least an accomplice of the culprit in that Episode.
All the anime episode titles are taken from chess terminology.
Also, all of the episodes of the visual novel are named "_____ of the Golden Witch".
I'm a Humanitarian: Characters occasionally get ripped to shreds and eaten by the goat people. Rosa gets force-fed parts from her siblings and her daughter at the end of the second arc; Crosses the Line Twice in the anime when Maria's severed head starts talking and happily tries to shove itself down her throat.
Sakutaro is given this treatment, although he's actually a stuffed animal.
Eva has her teenaged younger self as an imaginary friend in the third Episode. Too bad Eva-Beatrice is even more nuts than Eva has ever been.
In EP5, Beato and Kinzo's phantom can be thought of as imaginary friends to Natsuhi.
A recurring theme in the story is how the creation of one or more of these is used by various characters as a way of coping with psychological stress. Maria's case especially is discussed in detail by Ange in EP4, and aside from Eva and Natsuhi, this is eventually revealed to be how Sayo Yasuda dealt with his/herOrphan's Ordeal and the injuries to his/her body, by creating imaginary friends such as Shannon and Kanon and later dressing and acting as them.
In EP6 when Battler as the Game Master creates a piece version of Beato that acts like old Beato due to his distress over the chick version of Beato. It gets even sadder when you realize that he's talking to himself through her.
In EP7 it is implicitly revealed that Shannon and Kanon are George and Jessica's aunt (or uncle) and half-cousin, simultaneously. Of course, Sayo Yasuda doesn't find out about his/her parentage until about two years before the story begins, and George and Jessica never find out at all.
In the end of the second arc, when Maria's disembodied head tells Rosa to eat her Battler tells Maria to "It's ten years too early for you to tell someone to eat you. But make sure you tell me that ten years from now, okay? It's a promise."
Are the games books? Movies? RPGs? Self-aware books? (Also applies to the Meta-World: Dlanor speaks once about the making of a tea that she's drinking, saying "everybody accepts it as magic, so it appears as such in the narration".)
Physical form is just a convenience, apparently. Colored text has been depicted in the visual novel as: colored dialogue (with a nice sound effect to make it all the more cool), slashes, spears, and swords, all of the appropiate color. The TIPS even refers to these swords as "conceptual weapons that could take any form". We later discover this also applies to some characters; see The Treachery of Images.
In the author commentary of Minagoroshi-hen, Ryukishi07 wrote that it was fun to make theories about the mysteries, but that it was frustrating if you couldn't compare them to the one right answer given by the author at the end. Less than two years later, he started to write a series where, not only is the name of the culprit not given, literally half of the plot is left to the interpretation of the reader.
Natsuhi pushed Sayo Yasuda (and the servant carrying him/her) off of a cliff because of her frustration over her seeming inability to have children. Well, thanks to Natsuhi, Sayo's body is damaged to the point of being unable to have children, among other things.
It Works Better with Bullets: In the EP8 manga, it's revealed that the real reason why Natsuhi lost her duel with Beatrice in EP1 is because Sayo Yasuda removed the bullets from her gun beforehand. Natsuhi wasn't knowledgeable enough about guns to realize this.
Played straight, to some degree: in the anime, Beatrice makes reference to "a single man" who "appeared thanks to a star's guidance and finally explained the single element (love) that makes up the world." She then asks Shannon if she knows who the man is, but the question is rhetorical. The TIPS section for EP4 mentions a magical grimoire that has "a history of over 2000 years, is currently still in circulation, and continues to acquire new alliance members even now."
Averted in EP7 when Maria tells Will about her belief that she was conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost, since Rosa kept telling her that she didn't have a father. To back this up, she quotes from the Book of Matthew (1:23) and states that since Jesus was born from the virgin Mary, she may have been born the same way.
Kangaroo Court: The Rosa torture scene has more than a few elements of this, especially in the visual novel. Also played terribly straight with Natsuhi's trial at the end of EP5.
Kansas City Shuffle: Right from the first arc, Battler deconstructs exactly why the chessboard thinking he tries to use isn't going to work: because he doesn't know the rules of the game. Because he doesn't know the rules of the game, he has no idea which moves will result in which pieces being taken.
Rosa's justification for her treatment of Maria (or the one she tells people anyway; in Maria's backstory we find out that Rosa hates her a good deal for just being). Basically, "All the children make fun of her! Don't you see?! Beating her will obviously make her stop whining!"
Not to mention Ange's classmates, who carry some responsibility for Ange's socially reclusive personality.
The following is said in gold text: "I guarantee that this corpse is Kinzo Ushiromiya's corpse!"
Ultimately, everyone who was on Rokkenjima except Eva and Battler. Eva dies years later and Battler undergoes Death of Personality to become Tooya Hachijou, so technically everyone in the Ushiromiya family dies except Ange.
Kill 'em All: "When the seagulls cried, no one had been left alive."
Konami Code: The very first scene Rudolf appears in has him pulling Battler's ear while saying "up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right" as an obvious Shout-Out to this.
Lamarck Was Right: Descendants of Kinzo almost universally inherit the key elements of his 'magic', pure blind determination and an idiot's understanding of chance and probability. This clan of human lemmings would be marked for mass extinction in the real world, and indeed are, in the world of Umineko. This goes even further. Apparently, Kinzo (and thus, Battler) are not only untalented in magic, but have a supernatural resistance to it. And yet…
Lampshade Hanging: In Episode 3 of the sound novels, Beatrice puts a massive lampshade on her own Tsundere behavior in that arc, even mentioning anime and dating sims.
Anything spoken in red text is true. If it isn't true, it can't be spoken in red text and may be subject to Unreliable Narration. (And if you actually try to state an untruth in red text, you will come to physical harm.) For whatever reason, this doesn't stop people from throwing around red statements frivolously (Beatrice cackles on two separate occasions in red, and a few characters deliver death threats in red, as if there were doubt about it or something). The manga elaborates by precising there are 2 kinds of red truths: those who apply specifically on each separate gameboard (for the circumstances of the deaths, alibis and such), and those who apply to every game and to the world outside the catbox (such as the number of people on the island).
In EP5, Gold Text is introduced out of nowhere, which according to Word Of God can only be used by those who "understand the rules".
A special one goes out to Jimang, the guy who sang the show's ending theme. It's so over-the-top that it's nearly impossible to see something involving the show without "OH DESIRE." See the character sheet for in-show examples.
In-story, there's Beatrice, Erika and Kinzo.
Laser Blade: Kanon's and the Stakes' swords are very elaborate magical versions.
Last Kiss: Beatrice kissing Battler before jumping from the boat with the 10kg ingot in the magic ending. Riposa, riposa in pace…
Last Request: In the second arc when Beatrice has broken through Shannon's shield, Shannon turns to George and asks him to tell her one last time how much he loves her. He starts, but is cut off by Beatrice killing him—but in reality, it was Shannon herself who cuts him off by killing him.
Last Stand: EP8. Ange-Beatrice crashes the afterparty, summons Eva-Beatrice, who in turn summons an infinite horde of goats that begin devouring the game board, forcing the fantasy characters to fight for their lives until the Golden Land opens up.
Law of Inverse Fertility: Partially fed into issues between Natsuhi (unable to conceive for 12 years) and Eva (who gives birth earlier and thinks her son should be the heir).
The first tea party has the characters musing about how surprised they were about the "fact" that the story's a fantasy, rather than a mystery.
Battler: "Hey, everyone, good job finishing 'Umineko no Naku Koro ni'! Man, I still didn't have a clue what was going on when the story ended!" Jessica: "So just what happened? Was that basically the 'bad ending,' where time runs out before the culprit can be exposed?" Maria: "Uu-. Definitely a bad ending. Uu-." George: "That's right. Beatrice's letter, which Maria-chan read on the first day, did tell us in advance to solve the riddle of the epitaph. We were all so busy trying to protect ourselves and look for the culprit that we didn't even take a shot at it." Shannon: "... That's right. If we had actually tried to solve the riddle, I'm sure things would have ended differently."
Though this ends up being ruthlessly deconstructed when Battler becomes more and more confused and disturbed by how everyone so readily accepts the fact that it's fantasy instead of mystery, and then everyone else rapidly returns to their state of death, Beatrice reveals herself for the first time, and then she whisks Battler off to Purgatorio where they start their battle of logic that frames the rest of the series. This also functions as a Meta Twist to those who expected a lighthearted "wrap party" with Animated Actors at the end of every arc like in Higurashi.
Another notable example:
Ronove [about Battler in Chiru]: It seems the tale of the next head will be worth writing down as well. In fact, it is already being written. It's already a very, very long tale.
Leave Him to Me: During the final battle, Erika Furudo tells the goats to let her fight Beatrice alone. Then they bow to each other and begin the duel.
Left the Background Music On: Two scenes in EP4 in the novel open with an upbeat jazzy soundtrack, but Ange complains and has Amakusa turn it off.
Battler's hypothesis as to how the figure known as Kinzo Ushiromiya could take so much hands-on action in the fourth game despite dying before the start of any game is that someone took on his name and that the rest of the family acknowledged this.
Later on, this turns out to be how Beatrice can claim to be a thousand years old, since many of her stories relating to her past are really stories of her mother and grandmother, who shared the same name.
Let The Past Burn: It's revealed that a huge stockpile of hidden explosives were used at the end of the second day of the Ushiromiya murder mystery which creates a huge crater on the island and destroys their mansion, the family members, and any evidence with it. Episode 4 and episode 8 of the visual novel suggest that it would be much better to forget about the incident, and let the hype, driven by the media, die so that relatives of people who died can move on.
Light Is Not Good: The main antagonist, Beatrice, is nicknamed "The Golden Witch" and is said to appear as a flock of golden butterflies. So what does she do during the first four arcs? Oh, only sadistically kill off the entire cast. Later it's revealed that this is more of a case of Light Is Not Nice.
Limited Wardrobe: With Kanon and Shannon exempted, most of the characters in the VN are only ever seen in one outfit, even in flashbacks, when it is also noted that these are their formal clothes that they're wearing for the family conference (although according to one TIP, Krauss and his family wear formal clothing all the time at home, not just for conferences). The anime and the PS3 port largely avert this trope in the flashbacks, but they still keep them in the same outfits through multiple days, even though, logically, everyone should have known that they would be staying more than one day and packed a change of clothes.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Starts off with the Ushiromiya family, their servants, and Kinzo's physician for a total of 18 people trapped on an island during a storm and goes up from there as Beatrice starts bringing in more of her associates (justifying it as the magical world gaining influence over the game). All the new witches, demons, servants, and Bad Future characters bring the count to 63 named characters, most of whom have a role at some point (although the exact count is made complicated by the different identities Sayo Yasuda goes under). To give an idea, Ryukishi's previous work had maybe a dozen relevant characters for a story of similar length. Lampshaded to hell and back in thisFourth-wall shattering TIP from EP6.
Locked Room Mystery: Invoked many times and taken by some characters as evidence that murders were committed by the Golden Witch rather than by a human. Of course, the point of the game is to not buy any of it.
Logical Fallacies: When Battler accuses Eva of lying in red her response is to say "The red only tells the truth." and to accuse Battler of insulting Beato's honor. This is intentional given that "Anti-Mystery vs. Anti-Fantasy" points out that the red truth relies on you trusting Beato. Furthermore, actual evidence supporting the validity of the red truth is presented later on.
Lonely Piano Piece: "Fortitude" is the most common one, although "Wingless" and "Umarete Kite Kurete Arigatou" ("Thank you for being born") also deserve a mention. Really, a good part of the music could be considered for this. Dai is really fond of using pianos.
Long-Lost Relative: Although the moment was suitably surprising for Battler, the audience is set up to have already known "Gretel"'s true identity.
Long Song, Short Scene: Ougon Musoukyoku uses songs directly taken out of the game, like goldenslaughterer or haze and worldend dominator, which usually last for about at least five minutes, on a game where the average match doesn't lasts more that 3 minutes, which means you won't hear all of the song unless you deliberately pause the game.
Lost in Translation: The epitaph's puzzle would've been extremely difficult to translate to solvable English. Because English doesn't have the structural features of Japanese — ie; multiple character readings, alternate kanji for the same readings — that to translate the embedded word puzzles would require a much longer and less poetic epitaph. Making it meaningful as directions to a treasure would lose the implications of a sacrificial ceremony.
The Lost Woods: The rest of Rokkenjima besides the main mansion is uncultivated forest, and Kinzo's favorite legend involves telling his children that the witch Beatrice lives within the woods, so it's a very dangerous place. He isn't lying, since Rosa stumbles across her hidden mansion after running blindly into the forest.
Lotus-Eater Machine: Beatrice creates her own perfect world with just her and Maria. Also, the Golden Land in the first arc functions this way.
Love Dodecahedron: The cause of the entire tragedy. To elaborate, the cousin-servant couples are Jessica/Kanon, and George/Shannon. However, Battler and Shannon were formerly couples (see Childhood Marriage Promise), and Shannon and Kanon are the same person.
Kinzo, who became obsessed with the occult as a way to revive Beatrice and happily watches over the start of a ceremony to sacrifice his children. However, Kinzo really was deeply in love with Beatrice Castiglioni, and she with him. Unfortunately, she died in childbirth, with their daughter surviving, and as she grew older her uncanny resemblance to her mother led to Kinzo doing something he'd regret for the rest of his life.
In EP6, Battler also demonstrates this in his desperation to revive Beatrice and his bitter disappointment when the new Beatrice has no memory or personality of the old; he eventually gets over it.
Beatrice's character song starts out as an upbeat rock/pop song, but the lyrics are about Beatrice wondering who she lives for and beginning to doubt if she will ever find true happiness; after the first couple verses establish this, the melody gradually becomes more fitting for the song.
The Stakes' image song definitely qualifies. The song contains a cutesy, energetic and upbeat music about how the stakes want to gouge and kill your body.
Mad Bomber: Sayo Yasuda, who's perfectly willing to blow up an island in an explosion that wipes out most of everything there.
Magic Skirt: Everyone with a skirt in Ougon Musou Kyoku is in violation of Knox's 2nd. The one exception is Chiester, but not because of the cut of her skirt; her midair splits would fully expose her crotch even if she wore a full skirt.
Magic Versus Science: Magic versus logic. Anti-mystery versus anti-fantasy. As time goes on, things get more complicated. The game continues to go on, but considering that they're by then well-developed characters, are the witches so easy to brush off as non-existent? One could argue that the witches being real or not doesn't change whether the murders are magic or mundane—and if they are mundane, would that really cast doubt on the existence of ageless, extradimensional beings like witches?
Rosa. Her last act in the second arc is to mow down goat-headed butlers with a rifle and Maria at her side.
During the climactic battle in the Golden Land, Rosa displays her Mama Bear tendencies to Erika in full force, to the point where the narration had to point it out.
Also Natsuhi. Kumasawa actually says in regard to her, "They always say that the most frightening bears are those that have children." It doesn't work, though.
Man Behind the Man: The third tea party has Lambdadelta state that she gave Beatrice her powers in order to create a board to beat Bernkastel in. Later reinforced by the alliance of Bernkastel and Lamdadelta against Beatrice in the fourth tea party.
Marathon Episode: Episode 4. Between Ange's travel in 1998, her learning of Magic while she was Off to Boarding School, Maria's diary and the fourth game, be ready to spend at least a good week reading it. The Ange and diary parts make up a good half of the Episode, and several of the chapters are very long. And that's not even including the Tea Party, which covers Battler investigating the crime scene and the entire final Battle.
Beatrice and Virgilia both derive their names from Dante's Divine Comedy. The "Stakes of Purgatory" have the names of demons corresponding to the Seven Deadly Sins. The "Chiester" bunny girls are named after Winchester shotguns. Finally, Lambdadelta's name is Greek for "34", which may hold some significance for those who saw Higurashi.
Also, Maria's name is one that is a common translation of Mary: a reference to the woman from the New Testament who gave birth to Jesus Christ. In the fourth arc, one of the TIPS speculates that Maria is one of the Creator witches, who can create something where there was previously nothing. The significance of Maria's name is further explored in EP7, and Maria even says that if she had been born a boy, she would have been named Emmanuel, one of the names for Jesus, meaning "God is with us" in Hebrew.
Mental Story: Combined with a Show Within A Show Reveal in Episode 8 — most of the plot is Tooya Hachijo (aka Battler) recreating the events of Rokkenjima 1986 as mystery novels in the same way Beatrice wrote several manuscripts that she threw into the sea in bottles, after he recovered his memory of what happened.
Mercy Kill: Ange did one to Eva near the end of the fourth arc. Also, Beato gave one to Maria and Rosa in the third arc.
Message in a Bottle: The ending of "Legend of the Golden Witch." It's later revealed that there were several of these (though only two of them were found).
Metaphorically True: Anything said in Red needs careful attention paid to its Exact Words. It is however absolutely true to the person saying it. Even that might not always help: in EP6 it's heavily implied that EP2's Red Truth that Kanon died in this room! can only be true metaphorically.
Mind-Control Eyes: In EP6, Jessica takes on these, though they're really just an indication of how she's hardening her heart.
Wait, what? Everybody's alive again? What do you mean, "wrap party"? So, what, everybody dying was some TV show we were all watching or something? Beatrice!? What are you doing here?!...Wait, none of this was some weird meta gag?! Of course, if you played Higurashi, it's a double-whammy of a Mind Screw, since Higurashi had wrap parties too. It's just that those ones were non-canon. Thus, when Umineko pulls out the first tea party, the results were a subversion of their use in the previous games.
This goes to new levels in EP5, where depending on how you look at it, there can be 3 or 4 levels of Meta-Worlds.
Episode 6 has another massive one: Ange is reading the part of Dawn to Featherine where Beato asks about information of "old" Beato, in which Featherine opens a door to bring Virgilia and Beato to look through her library. Then later, while Ange is still reading she stops and asks Beato, who was still in the library, a question. It is common for readers to clutch their heads in confusion at that point.
The manga, which is supervised by Ryūkishi, also adds more clues (notably visual ones) to understand the mysteries and explains some parts of the story more clearly than the sound novels. Whether some of its content actually (like the "truth" about Rokkenjima Prime) is canon remains questionable though, as giving a definite answer directly contradicts one of the maint points of the VN's ending.
Missing Mom: Battler's mother Asumu died, and it's stated outright that Kyrie is more of an older sister than a mom to him. In fact, Battler is distanced from Rudolf because he married Kyrie Too Soon for Battler's taste. Of course, it turns out Asumu wasn't his real mother, and Battler has a HUGE Heroic BSOD when he finds out.
Monty Hall Problem: In the EP8 manga, Jessica and George use this on Ange during a game of hide-and-seek, with the trope named outright.
Mood Whiplash: A pretty strong element all throughout the series. While the pattern in Higurashi's arcs was to begin light and funny and get progressively darker and scarier, Umineko relies more on unexpected emotional shock.
Multiple Endings: There's the usual When They Cry stuff with the multiple endings playing into a larger ending, but the last arc itself can also end in two different ways.
Multiple Reference Pun: Similarly to Higurashi, although it may be a bit far-fetched. "Umineko" is a type of seagull, but literally means "sea cat". The term used to describe the endless possible scenarios of Rokkenjima is the "catbox". So the title can mean "When the seagulls cry" or "When the cat in the middle of the sea is dead".
It's kinda hard to remember with all of the sound effects and shiny slashes that when characters use red text, blue text, and gold text, they're really only rebutting each other's arguments. It's like the most shiny debate club competition EVAR.
Remove the color tints and special effects at the end of EP4 and you get Battler trying to speak but choking halfway.
Lambdadelta's power include bombarding her opponent with… candies.
Dawn has a particularly interesting case and even lampshades it. Erika picks a fight with Maria over the fact that Maria claims Beatrice made candy appear from an empty cup. It escalates to the point where Maria and Erika have a Truth battle to determine whether or not this candy trick was an act of magic. It's a Wizard Duel meets bickering over candy with a 9 year old.
My Master, Right or Wrong: Genji, Shannon and Kanon seem rather unconcerned in the face of Kinzo's actions and all the murders that occur. In reality Kinzo is long dead and Shannon and Kanon are in fact the same person, Sayo, who is Kinzo's illegitimate child with his daughter Beatrice II and is the one Genji considers his new master. Sayo then plan the murders without any protest from Genji, who even helps with covering them up.
Nearly 90% of the attacks in Ougon Musou Kyoku are these, in fact, the game itself is full of this.
Nested Story Reveal: Episode 8 reveals that most of the plot is Toya Hachijo's attempt to recreate what happened in Rokkenjima by writing mystery novels ("Forgeries") based on the original two message bottles that washed up on the shores of Japan.
Never Found the Body: Anyone who survives until the end of the arc tends to die in this manner. However, even during the arcs, Kanon seems to have these sorts of deaths a lot.
The anime's next-episode trailers are full of blatant lies and out-of-character behavior. They're hilarious. Except the last one.
The trailer before the release of the first game opened with the words "No Knox, No Dine, No Fair". Episodes 5 and 7 introduce incarnations of the Knox and Van Dine rules respectively.
A website version. Alchemist announced a Umineko project, but used different characters drawn in the Umineko portrait style. This all turned out to be a joke and the characters were for their new game Galgun, but at the same time they announced Rondo of the Witch and Reasoning
Noblewoman's Laugh: Beatrice is prone to these, and Maria's giggling sometimes morphs into it as well. Lambda has her "O-ho-ho-ho-ho!" in the Visual Novel as well.
No Body Left Behind: The Stakes are some of the few characters NOT to leave gruesome corpses. Unless they're the ones doing the killing, but that's another matter… This also happens every time Kanon dies.
No Name Given: Kinzō's wife and Maria's father remain ghost characters until the very end.
Not so Fast, Bucko!: Used horribly effectively in Requiem. The funeral is over, the rain stops, everyone can go, a sweet piano music plays along with the "Umineko no naku Koro ni" ending screen. Then in the Tea Party, we are brutally reminded that Bernkastel is the Game Master of this Episode. Of course, all the Tea Parties have a twist, but this one is almost an Episode of its own (it's even divided in chapters).
Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Amakusa tries to pull this on Ange in the Trick ending, upon which she calmly replies that the Tokarev does not have a safety and shoots him to death.
Official Couple: There are nothing but these. Not much room for Shipping in this series. George/Shannon, Jessica/Kanon, Rudolf/Kyrie, Eva/Hideyoshi, Krauss/Natsuhi, Beatrice/Battler, Lambdadelta/Bernkastel.
Ominous Pipe Organ: Odds are, if you're magical, your theme tune hits this trope. For some examples, we have "Organ Opusculum No. 600,000,000 in C Minor" (Beatrice), "happiness of marionette" (Eva-Beatrice), and "Dance of the Moon Rabbit" (the Chiester). Though as a subversion, the latter two sound pretty joyful. The best example of the trope in the series is probably Kuina in Episode 5.
On One Condition: If you find the gold before midnight of the second night, you win! If not, "The witch shall be revived. None shall survive."
And even when someone DID find it, "When the seagulls cried, there was but one survivor."
In EP5 the gold was found and a murder occured anyway. Furthermore, while the game ended before everyone died, the author implied in an interview that more people die anyways.
Not to mention EP7: Everyone works together to find the gold… and promptly turn on each other.
Only Known by Their Nickname: Beatrice's name is treated as a title, and indeed, when Eva-Beatrice becomes the new Endless Witch, Beatrice claims that she is now "nameless." Battler then gives her the nickname "Beato" to use, which has been used for her more often than not since.
Outside-the-Box Tactic: Finding the culprit requires to think some aspects in an unorthodox way. Namely, you have to understand that "a person" doesn't necessarily refer to a physical person (which is heavily foreshadowed in the early episodes), and relatedly that in Beato's mouth, "dead" doesn't necessessarily mean physically dead.
Red truth is for an absolute truth. Blue truth is for a magic-denying theory, and later to emphasize logical arguments. Gold truth is for those who have understood everything of the game board. And Twilight has the purple declaration for important testimonies in Bernkastel's mystery game. Every piece can use the purple declaration, and it's used to speak the truth, like the red, but the culprit(s) can lie with it.
All dialogue is spoken aloud in the anime (duh) but red text tints the scene red, zooms around in white font, with butterflies circling it, and makes a high-pitched buzzing. (Blue is the same sans butteflies.) In some instances for the final episode of the anime, the text doesn't appear, but the sound effects (a slashing noise for red and a booming noise for blue) remain to imply that what they say is "colored."
Parental Incest: Kinzo fathered a child with the daughter he had with the original Beatrice. What's worse is that since he saw Beatrice II as the reincarnation of her mother, and she could neither return nor understand these feelings, he essentially raped her.
According to Episodes 3 and 4, magic was originally intended to bring about happiness and gained its powers through the efforts of love. KnowingRyukishi, this was completely intentional.
This trope is actually examined in different ways throughout the series, and in some cases it's deconstructed most notably in Kinzo's case, since while he and Beatrice Castiglioni were deeply in love, his love for her combined with her Death by Childbirth drove him to sexually abuse their daughter just because she so closely resembled her mother.
Powers That Be: The Witches' Senate may be something of the sort. We are never really explained what it is, what kind of power it has or how its members are designated. We just know that Bern, Lambda and Featherine are part of it and that it's a very bad idea to go against it.
Present Day Past: Internet as presented in Umineko would seem plausible if the story were at least set somewhere in the 21st century. In 1998, though? It wasn't big to the point of having millions of people posting theories about the Rokkenjima incident.
Puni Plush: Ryukishi07's (in)famous drawing style consists big heads, round faces and… weird hands. Really weird. It appeals to many fans thanks to its expressiveness though.
Puzzle Thriller: Not only the hero, but the players must first figure out how the narration works before they can solve any puzzle. As long as you just take what is shown to you at face value and assume the narration is objective, you won't go anywhere.
The Rashomon: Suspend any expectation that a Third Person Omniscient camera will show the objective truth, or even the characters' honest perspectives. Events and conversations may contain truth, even if they never happened.
Rays from Heaven: This visual novel does this at the end of Ep 7 after Will solving all of Beatrice's games and riddles, letting Beatrice, in the form of Claire, die in peace. Lion also learns how lucky s/he should be in not having become Sayo Yasuda. The sunlight is even described as looking as a staircase to heaven.
Real After All: Possibly. After it is seemingly established that witches and fantasy creatures are essentially imaginary beings (or at best exist on a different plane), Episode 8 shows Ikuko/Featherine using the red truth during a press conference in the real world, and not aging the slightest bit in something like 40 years, thus implying that witches do exist after all. Like an ultimate Mind Screw from the author.
Red Herring: One that can be suspected as early as Episode 2 if you pay close attention. Not only are the "epitaph murders" not part of any revival ceremony, the one who supposedly begun said ceremony is long dead.
Sacrificial Lamb: Subverted in the same way as Higurashi, but slightly more ironic, as those who die first do so as sacrifices to summon Beatrice or not, since that's not why the murders are happening.
Episode 4. In order to gain two, sacrifice one: Your life. Your loved one's life. Everyone else's lives. Amusingly, everyone shown indicates one of the choices, then goes on to Take a Fourth Option anyways.
The entire plot is a sort of variation. Battler must accept magic's existence or blame one of his close relatives. As Beatrice gleefully points out several times. He has big qualms with both.
A recurring motif. Used by Virgilia and Battler to explain why the fantasy scenes happen: as long as the detective can't see them, there's a possibility that it either happened, or it didn't happen. And that in a Closed Circle, two theories (or more) have the same weight of truth until the closed circle is broken.
"Catbox" is also used as a metaphor for what really happened on Rokkenjima. The only one said to be able to open it is Eva, since she was present. She however chose not do so for the sake of Ange.
Science Destroys Magic: This is the witch's defense for why they don't use magic openly: People don't believe in it anymore which undermines its effectiveness. The validity of the argument is intentionally ambiguous.
Serial Escalation: Everything that happens in one game usually gets this treatment in the next; heck, it also happens in the middle of the games themselves, from the awesomely epic magic shows to the badass BGM to the number of characters per game to the ridiculous and outrageous theories for the murders to the amount of memes generated per game. Special mention goes to Episode 5, in which the HSQ reaches its peak.
Servant Race: Furniture is apparently this. Later subverted, since not only is it implied that many of the furniture characters are really Imaginary Friends, but as the series goes on it becomes more apparent that whenever Shannon and Kanon use the word "furniture" it doesn't actually refer to their race or social status; rather, it refers to how Sayo Yasuda believes that his/her damaged body which is "unable to love" makes him/her less than human.
Sequel Hook: "Let's meet again. When something else cries…"
Sex Equals Love: One of Sayo Yasuda's issues and part of his/her confusion. Because of what is implied to be Sayo's mutilated sexual organs, s/he is unable to have sex and is afraid that the his/her other selves' love interests (Battler, George and Jessica) will view him/her as a "filthy maggot" if s/he reveals the truth. The series never comments upon whether Sayo is right or not, but the point is that those feelings exist and it's a major factor in Sayo's self-hatred.
Shaggy Dog Story: Though the phrase is never used, some characters discuss whether the story itself should be this in EP8. Whether the story itself was this is a frequent bone of contention for the fandom.
Shameful Strip: After Battler surrenders to Beatrice in the second arc, he is stripped completely except for a chain around his neck that Beatrice uses as a leash.
Shout-Out: Once again, too many to list, so please don't try here.
Show Within a Show: Played for laughs in the manga, where Maria (and Ange in an omake) watches a show called "Magical Bern-chan".
Sigil Spam: The One-Winged Eagle crest of the Ushiromiya family shows up quite often; all the Ushiromiya family members and servants have the crest somewhere on their clothing (except for Natsuhi and Gohda, who Kinzo doesn't trust), it's on Kinzo's stationary and personal seal, and the hidden gold bars all have the crest on them. EP7 reveals that it's not an original symbol, and it derives from a faded imprint of the Italian Social Republic's eagle on the gold bars.
Sliding Scale of Continuity: Level 5 (Full Lockout). Ye gads, get out of order or miss a segment or two in either, and you can end up so lost. And, this is the same, whichever medium you're playing/ watching/ reading them in.
So Happy Together: In the first arc, George proposes to Shannon in a gazebo with all sorts of pretty music playing in the background. Guess who's one of the people found dead the next morning, with the engagement ring on her finger? Double Subverted since Shannon wasn't really among the corpses, but she was probably the murderer.
The Soulless: According to Beatrice, furniture is this. While this isn't exactly true, there's a reason Beatrice believes that.
Episode 3. People getting killed horribly with this music in the background.
That's nothing compared to Eva-Beatrice's theme song: It's even called Happiness of Marionette. So when does this play? Whenever the villain of this arc is contemplating how she'll torture people, of course!
Note: if, when playing Umineko, a piece of music is played containing either a pipe organ or a harpsichord (unless it is in the beginning, setting up the Rokenjima family gathering), NOTHING positive is going to happen in that scene. No matter how happy, fun, pleasant, or uplifting it my sound, some serious shit is going down. Someone is either going to: A) Die horribly, B) Have their perception of reality shattered, C) Get trapped in a horrific logic error, D) Have their argument torn to shreds, E) THINK that they are going to win, then get completely and utterly beaten, or F) All of the above!
In each arc the opening animations change, most notably the portrait. The second animation set shows Beatrice's Human Form, and the third set shows Eva-Beatrice, Virgilia, and the Chiesters. The fourth one shows all three portraits, another Chiester, and Maria's witch outfit.
The opening of the PS3 port is very bad with it. Showing quickly important scenes without context may not be bad enough, but showing characters whose very existence are a big surprise for first time players make sure a good part of the mood of the first few episodes are completely changed.
While growing up, Eva was repeatedly told by her family that she fails as a woman because she didn't know how to do feminine things. The creation of EVA-Beatrice largely stems from her resentment of this.
Also, Krauss repeatedly shuts Natsuhi up. Unfortunately this isn't to his benefit, since she basically runs the house and has much more common sense than he does while he squanders their money on poorly thought-out business ventures.
Super Fun Happy Thing of Doom: Some of the "Tea Parties" may start as cheerful and humorous after-parties, but they usually do not end this way. And more often than not they contain some horrible reveal or twist.
Surprisingly Good Italian: Akiko Shikata, who composed the VN and anime's opening and the VN's final ending ; what can be more fitting for the series than a Japanese woman who can write and sing in Italian?
Gleefully averted, at least some of the time. In the first arc, Kanon has a long rant about how he's going to kill himself and ruin Beatrice's plans, but she sics a Stake on him before he gets around to acting on it. There's also an awful lot of people dying in the middle of trying to say something important.
The anime, on the other hand, fell a victim to this trope with a Jessica falling to the ground in a bullet time and talking at the same time.
Played straight later in the novels, Battler's debate with Beato at the end of the fourth arc and the trial at the end of the fifth arc last a minute each.
Talking to Themself]]/Acting for Two: It takes more than half the series for the readers to realize that these tropes are in effect whenever Shannon talks to Kanon, but in Episode 7 this fact becomes obvious. Also, no matter how you look at it Beatrice is Acting For Many in both the Meta-World and the piece-world.
Tangled Family Tree: And how. It's revealed in EP7 that Kinzo had a daughter with Beatrice I, and then had another daughter/son with that daughter. Said second daughter/son is in a relationship with at least two of Kinzo's grandchildren. Gender ambiguity actually being a plot point here. You do the math.
Tastes Like Diabetes: invoked Played with at the beginning of Episode 3. One cute scene has the cousins and Shannon all fooling around on the beach, then everyone promising that they will always get along while holding hands, with Jessica lampshading how embarrassing it is… and then the screen breaks and we brutally switch to the meta-world, while Beatrice cackles that, nope, there won't be such happy ending. Did we mention she is a bit of a Troll?
Tempting Fate: "Unless messing up sets off a trap that blows up the island, of course." You just had to say it, Beato.
With the exception of Kinzo, the blood members of the Ushiromiya family all have Western names transliterated from kanji. Battler is the Odd Name Out, being a translation instead. Sayo is even more of an Odd Name Out but is a justified case, unlike Battler's. The four siblings in particular (Krauss, Eva, Rudolf and Rosa) all have German names.
Many of the servants have 音 (non/on/ne, meaning "sound") as part of their names.
All the women related to Battler also are named from Christian mythos (Kyrie Eleison = The Kyrie Prayer, Assum = Assumption into heaven, and Ange = Angel).
As for the magical characters, several are named after characters appearing in Dante's Divine Comedy: Beatrice, Virgil (Virgilia), and Bernard of Clairvaux (Clair Vauxof Bernard) are all Dante's guides.
The demons' names are taken from the Ars Goetia (Ronove, Gaap, Zepar and Furfur), and the Stakes of Purgatory are all named after demons that are associated with the sins they represent according to Peter Binsfield's classification of demons.
The Chiesters are named after different types of ammunition.
Dlanor A. Knox and Willard H. Wright are both named after detective novelists (Ronald A. Knox and S.S. Van Dine, respectively), who each wrote a set of guidelines on how mystery novels should be written in order to be solvable.
Time Travel: Ange is an interesting case. It is not clear when or where the Meta-World is, but Battler and Beatrice's fight takes place in 1986; Ange lives in 1998 and with Bernkastel's assistance reaches the Meta-World. One way of explaining this is that since Episodes 1 and 2 (sans Meta-World sequences) were found as message bottles after 1986, all Ange is doing is metaphorically going back to 1986 and trying to find out what really happened. In such a case, this probably counts as a subversion.
Those Two Bad Guys: Bernkastel and Lambdadelta. Probably not coincidentally, the words "miracle" and "certainty" are found very often in the same sentence, in several character's mouths.
Over and over again by Battler. "When the seagulls cry" refers to when the typhoon is over and everything's safe. It's also used at the very end to give the body count. Er… perhaps "survivor count" might be a better description.
Several Episodes also drop their own title in the dialogue.
In EP2, there's Shannon. In the first arc she seems to be a generic shy MoeMeido archetype who becomes cannon fodder early on. Cue the second arc when she stands up to the witch who's supposedly killing everyone and basically tells her that because she gets enjoyment from seeing them squirm, she's not going to react to give her the satisfaction. Not to mention the barrier powers...
In EP4, both Jessica and George: formerly damsels in distress give Ronove and Gaap a run for their money.
Battler, who was level grinding throughout the entire series so far, and boy does it show in the later ones.
The Tragic Rose: The rose garden in front of the Ushiromiya mansion, and Maria's search for her marked rose.
Translation Punctuation: Depending on the language. The characters' native language is Japanese, and when a character is speaking in English or another language the dialogue will be written inside square brackets or angle brackets. This is used more in the author-endorsed fan patch by Witch Hunt than the original Japanese to avoid confusion about the dialogue.
The Treachery of Images: A plot point actually. Battler is nearly won over in the third arc when Beatrice starts showing him visually spectacular witch battles, but Virgilia reminds him that this is still a narrative being told by Beatrice, so he should take the visuals with a few cellars of salt. By the time the 7th arc rolls around it's blatantly obvious in regards to at least 3 characters, if not more. Those who want to solve the mystery by then should take to heart the fact that the story is basically lying to the readers as much as it can without distorting the truth.
According to Dlanor's version of Knox's 9th, "It is permitted for observers to let their own conclusions and interpretations be heard," this is Fair Play. Everything shown in a character's Point of View, including internal monologues, is construed to be their "conclusions and interpretations", and therefore as honest and reliable as that character is.
Troll: The witches in general, though depending on the witch, their trolling can be somewhat amusing in a dark comedy sort of way. Special nod goes to Bernkastel, whose trolling is not only incredibly cruel, but absolutely not funny. She ain't called Trollkastel for nothing you know.
Jessica, though like Mion from Higurashi: When They Cry she's an unconventional example in that she's neither overly tsun nor overly dere.
Beato towards Battler. In Beato and Battler's case, this is subverted massively in Episode 3, but appears to be true in Episode 4 anyway. Battler even talks about it in EP5.
Battler: When she comes back again, I'm going to tell her "You're such a tsundora."
Two Dun It: A possible theory about the truth of Rokkenjima is that the events are caused by two teams working independent of each other, one planning and one opportunistic. The first one is the servants and one of the siblings (which one depends on the arc) led by Sayo Yasuda who plans the murders (the one among the sibling and a few of the servants think it's just a game) in order to become free from his/her fate or that Battler solves the case and finds out the truth. The other one would be Kyrie who took a chance when the gold was found.
Understatement: Episode 22's title in the anime, "Problem Child". In regards to Maria. For some context, that's the one where she kills her mother over and over and over. Hard not to cheer for her though, considering that Rosa is the BEST MOM EVER.
Unexpected Successor: Kinzo, actually. The Ushiromiya family used to be very powerful, and Kinzo was a member of "a branch of the branch family". Then, an earthquake took out just about everything, and it was up to Kinzo to restore the family to its former glory. But not exactly, as the elders of the family were still alive and intended to use Kinzo as a figurehead, and he even knew that they were going to make a puppet out of him. Somewhere along the lines, he decided to take matters into his own hands, presumably with the help of Beatrice I.
The reader never learns what really happened on Rokkenjima. They are only ever given hints to reason the answer for themselves. The reason given in-game is that by never revealing the truth, Ange's hope for a miracle that everyone survived can never be denied. The truth is at least something disturbing enough to drive poor Ange to suicide after she reads Eva's diary, which contains the One Truth.
In the manga, The Unreveal about the diary becomes The Untwist, as its contents pretty much show the Episode 7 Tea Party. Whether this is canon for the VN as well remains up to debate.
Episode 5 spells out what can and can't be taken as reliable: For episodes 1-4, only scenes that piece Battler narrates, For episode 5, only scenes that Erika narrates (which are very few).
This applies in a broader sense later on, once you learn that Episodes 1-2 were written by Yasu, and Episodes 3-6 by Tooya; each of them places far more emphasis on things relevant to themselves. Yasu's episodes are unreliable beyond that because they were written before the actual event, while Tooya's place much more emphasis on how Yasu was influenced by Battler, which makes it impossible to know how reliable that really is.
Unusual Euphemism: Referring to the servants as "furniture" ("kagu" in Japanese). EP7 reveals that it was coined by Sayo Yasuda, and it's actually a euphemism for something worse; namely, because of his/her mutilated body which "can't love", he/she may as well not be human... in fact, he/she may as well be furniture.
The Untwist: invoked Ryūkishi07 perfected this to an artform. A rule of thumb when you're reading Umineko is that offhand comments or theories made by the characters should not be dismissed casually. This trope is outright mentioned in Our Confession.
"If, say, Natsuhi says that the servants are the culprits, the reader will naturally assume she must be wrong. It's a confusion technique."
Uptown Girl: George, a member of the obscenely wealthy Ushiromiya family falls in love with Shannon, one of the servants at the main house. Similarly, Jessica Ushiromiya falls in love with Kanon, a male servant. Subverted when it turns out that Shannon and Kanon are actually the same person, Sayo Yasuda, who is Kinzo Ushiromiya's illegitimate child and the true head of the family.
Utopia Justifies the Means: Battler speculates that the reason Maria is so calm about everyone dying is the promise at the tenth twilight that she'll reach the Golden Land and everything will be restored: and her mother will be nicer to her to boot.
Verbal Tic: U~~. This is later shown to be not just a random noise.
In order to understand what the show really is about, you need to pay attention to a lot of small details such as where the characters get hurt, where do they die, who talked about fantasy, etc.
However, Ryūkishi felt obliged to add hints like the catbox talk in Banquet because after Episode 2 many people had started giving up when the fantasy scenes popped up. In other words, he was forced to realize that, no, viewers are not geniuses.
What You Are in the Dark: The reason the 'catbox' of Rokkenjima is closed. Everyone has a motive that isn't quite extreme enough for murder. But what do they do when presented with a pile of riches and the means to remove all evidence of what they did to secure it?
When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Twice. Usually, on the first day, there will be a time jump from around midnight to around six AM, implying that that's when the first murders occur, although the fourth arc is a little different. By midnight of the second night, well...
In Ep7, the siblings very nervously watch Kinzo's grandfather clock reach midnight, uncertain whether the explosives it's rigged to are armed or not.
Which Me?: There are about twelve different versions and variations of the Beatrices. Eleven if Shannon and Kanon are separate people, but that's still one hell of a lot. Some of them have their own names (Ange-Beatrice is usually known simply as "Ange", unless some distinction between 1998 and meta-1986 needs to be made), some have last names that are applicable (Beatrice Castiglioni), and some of them simply have fan-created names, because otherwise, you wouldn't be able to figure out who someone was referring to (Moetrice, suit![or sometimes, piece!]Beatrice, Beatroll, etc.).
White Magic: According to Virgilia, this was initially the purpose of Endless Magic. However, the magic itself can be used for either this or Black Magic depending upon the intentions of the user.
Whodunnit to Me: "Battler Ushiromiya, at this time, I will kill you. And right now, there is no one on the island other than you. The only one alive on this island is you. Nothing outside the island can interfere in any way. And of course, I am not you. However, I am here now and will kill you."
The relationship between Battler and Beatrice is this towards The Divine Comedy with Beatrice waiting for Battler to find the truth referencing the eternal lady waiting for Dante at the top of Mount Purgatory. Several other names in the series also references the book and fulfill the same roles.
The book and the similarities are referenced in EP5 when Battler reaches the truth:
''Vergilius guided Dante to Mount Purgatory, ... and brought him below the feet of the eternal lady who waited at the top, Beatrice. Therefore, ... the innermost depths lay not at the bottom. ... but at the peak of Mount Purgatory. The eternal lady... had been waiting there for Dante... the whole time... And then...I...knew.
The mystery setting is also explicitly inspired by And Then There Were None: people gather on an isolated island and receive a mysterious message sent from an unknown person. And then people are killed one by one, following a text displayed in the house. This is mentioned in Episode 7.
Who Wants to Live Forever?: Most of the witches have been driven near-mad with sheer boredom after centuries or even millennia. Bernkastel repeatedly refers to boredom as "the witches' sickness".
Battler gets this in fandoms on both sides of the ocean. The fighting game acknowledges this with a few of the scenarios (Battler/Ronove, Dlanor/Virgilia, Ange/Virgilia) playing to it. Ange also has a rare in-battle opening line against Virgilia referencing this.
Witch Species: The fourth arc's TIPS describes three different types described in ascending power: Witches, who can possess immense power in one world that is considered to be its dominion; Voyagers, who can travel freely in between the different fragments; and Creators, who can "create a one in a world of nothingness." From a mundane perspective, "becoming a witch" is a metaphor for using escapism to cope with one's problems. The witches' ages represent how long their suffering felt to them; to Sayo Yasuda, the six-year-long wait for Battler to return to Rokkenjima felt like a thousand years.
Word Puree Title: A good number of the musics in the OST have this, like "System 0", "Lie-alaia", "Bore-ral", "F Style", "LixAxil", "l&d circulation" or "Ruriair". The climax musics from zts are all english words approximately mashed together with no space: "worldenddominator", "dreamenddischarger" or "lastendconductor" to name a few.
World of Buxom: Virtually every female over the (apparent) age of 13 is noticeably… "blessed". Especially true of the Ushiromiya clan. Boobs in this series come in two sizes; almost non-existent (Lambdadelta, Maria) and DD (every other female). Bernkastel is either totally flat or mildly busty depending on the author.
Battler doesn't believe in the supernatural and tries to find mundane explanations for everything bizarre happening on the island. Oddly enough, Beatrice seems amused by his denial and traps him in a time loop, challenging him to find a mundane explanation each time. Or something. He eventually realizes by EP5 that he must change his priorities, and becomes one of the most appropriately Genre Savvy characters in the series.
Also, it may be Erika and Dlanor case in EP5. They use the "fact" that they are in a mystery to use Knox's Decalogue as basis of most of their deductions. However, it was never stated that the Decalogue is really valid (Dlanor even acknowledges this).
Yellow Brick Road: Jessica and the Killer Electric Fan. Basically, Jessica wrote a nonsensical script for the school festival play, but Lambdadelta found it amusing to enchant it. So when she, Battler and Shannon try to rehearse it, they are transported in the world of the play and must follow the script until the end to get out. At the end, a giant killer electric fan appears beneath their feet, despite being mentioned nowhere in the script. It turns out Jessica wanted to write "FIN" at the end but wrote "FAN" instead.
You Are Worth Hell: The fantasy ending of the series has Battler declare this for Beatrice.
You Bastard: In the Tanabata side story, Bern addresses the reader several times during her section, repeatedly asking, implying, and outright stating that they prefer seeing the sort of twisted 'wish-granting' she indulges in. Looking back, considering how Higurashi's ending was midldy appreciated because it was "too happy" for the series, she may not be totally wrong.
You Can't Fight Fate: Ange helps even knowing that going back in time to help Battler won't fix her own timeline: just the one that Battler will now go to which makes her a Future Badass. In the end she can't fix Battler's timeline either, but it still turns out that aside from Eva he was the only one to make it off of Rokkenjima alive.